New Kansas proposal breaks impasse on expanding Medicaid

Gov. Laura Kelly
Posted at 10:35 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 12:11:39-05

As legislators return to Topeka for the 2020 session, they’ll have a new proposal to debate.

On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) and Senate Majority Jim Denning (R) announced a plan that would expand the state’s Medicaid program.

The deal breaks an impasse that had allowed a handful of GOP leaders to thwart bipartisan legislative majorities.

“This process is far from over, as there are still several critical steps to be taken by the Kansas Legislature," Kelly said Thursday in a release. “But today, Senator Denning and I are proud to stand together to propose a bipartisan compromise that will expand Medicaid and lower healthcare costs for Kansas families."

Kelly added the proposal includes portions of her plan, a plan from Denning, a 2019 plan from the House of Representatives and a 2017 plan that passed both chambers but failed to earn the signature of then-governor Sam Brownback.

“My top priority is to lower the cost of healthcare for Kansans across the board. We want to give as many Kansans health care coverage as we can, in the Medicaid market and the non-Medicaid market,” Denning said in the release.

The plan would give Kelly the straightforward expansion of state health coverage that she has advocated and cover up to 150,000 additional people. Denning would get a version of a program that he has proposed for driving down private health insurance premiums to keep people from dropping existing private plans for Medicaid.

As part of the proposal, the plan would include a full expansion of Medicaid to 138% of the federal poverty level with a 90/10 match, and would go into effect no later than Jan. 1, 2021.

Moments after announcing the proposal, University of Kansas Health System president and CEO Bob Page offered support for the plan.

"We appreciate the hard work and commitment by Governor Kelly, Senator Denning and the legislature to find a workable solution for everyone involved," Page said in a release. "Now, more Kansans can see a clearer path to meeting their health care needs. With expanded Medicaid coverage and less uncompensated care, hospitals and clinics throughout the state will be able to focus critical resources on evolving patient needs."